Michelle Goldberg’s very interesting article about Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Christian Dominionism has a couple of interesting references to the “Seven Mountains” of society Christians are supposed to figure out how to lead in, including the arts and entertainment. It’s not remotely surprising that Christians would want to build up influence in Hollywood that would allow them to produce movies and television shows that respect and reflect their values — that’s a near-universal desire. But I am interested in the gap between the role Dominionist Christians have been able to carve out for themselves in politics and the role they’ve been able to carve out for themselves in Hollywood.
Obviously, there’s a lot of coded language in both spaces, but that seems to be more of an advantage in politics than it is in Hollywood. In political speeches, it can be to your advantage to slip in a phrase or metaphor that will go unnoticed by your larger audience but that will signal your allegiance to a smaller constituency that’s in the know. But in Hollywood, if you slip in coded language or imagery, it might make Christians feel better about watching a movie like The Matrix, but if it’s so covert that no one else notices, then your popular art’s failed as a conversion tool or as means of spreading the good news.
There’s no question that Christian moviemakers have succeeded in creating products that resonate with an alternative market. Movies like The Passion of the Christ and Fireproof have made plenty of money for what they are, but there’s no particular evidence that they drew in audiences outside their target demographics, or convinced any large number of people who wandered into them unawares to convert. Creating products that resonate only with Christians who are already on board may help folks who are worried about the influence of secular products avoid them. But that’s sort of the opposite of achieving dominion in the realm — instead, it’s an acknowledgment of defeat.